HEY WHAT’S WITH ALL THE SECRECY; THIS IS A DEMOCRACY, RIGHT?

closed doorsclosed doorscloseddoorclosed doors

Here’s an item on tomorrow’s agenda to be addressed by the City Council behind closed doors:


2. CONFERENCE WITH REAL PROPERTY NEGOTIATOR

Property: 626 & 700 S. Euclid Street
Agency Negotiator: Rob Zur Schmiede
Negotiating Parties: Paul Kott, Pierre J. Nicolas Trust
Under Negotiations: Price and terms

Why is the Redevelopment Agency negotiating to buy this property?
This is a big deal. Where's the public hearing?

Let’s get this straight. The Redevelopment staff (aka Rob Zur Schmiede) is asking for council permission to begin negotiations for a huge piece of property off Euclid, presumably to build low income housing. He’s trying to do it behind closed doors under the cover of the “closed session” where he can get the ball rolling on a project that has NEVER been authorized by anybody. The key phrase here is “price and terms” which justifies the secrecy but that in reality is being used as a fig leaf to hide the fact that the council is giving tacit approval to a project that has never been offically authorized by them, in public – even in concept. In fact the very nature of the request is the first in what will be a long series of incremental approvals. In fact, this process is called incrementalization for that very reason.

Well, WE object to these shennanigans even though it happens all the time.  Authorization to negotiate price and terms is premature, and at this juncture issues that are not covered by under Brown Act exclusions are already occuring. What is involved is a secret commencement of the process that will lead to land use entitlements and rezoning. This is wrong, wrong wrong. This is obviously going to be a major project with major policy and CEQA implications.

The City Council should agendize this issue for a public hearing immediately with proper notification to all the neighbors. If they choose to go ahead with this (likely monstrosity), THEN they can schedule their “price and terms” meeting in the cozy confines of the backroom!

32 Replies to “HEY WHAT’S WITH ALL THE SECRECY; THIS IS A DEMOCRACY, RIGHT?”

  1. Let me get this straight. A few months ago the R A wanted to pay car dealers to stay. Now they want to pay to get rid of them. I get it. We just need government to spend our tax dollars because they always know what’s best for every property all the time.

  2. “The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”

    John F. Kennedy

  3. You have hit the nail directly on the head. This is how they start out. Later they can say “well you told us to go ahead” and later still “well you’ve given us the okay at every point.”

    Finally when they really do have the public hearings staff has gotten so many head nods along the way that they get offended if the council doesn’t go along (which they almost always do). The weaker council members are either too dumb or too scared to pull the plug at the end for fear of looking obstructionist, anti-staff, etc.

    What a complete sham.

  4. This ball is squarely in Shawn Nelson’s court now.

    This is indeed a cynical evasion of the Brown Act. The citizens and the neighbors of this thing have a right to know what’s going on – before these “negotiators” do anything.

  5. Also, if anyone attended the “workshop” or whatever it was for this proposal we would very much like to hear from you.

  6. #5 Poon: You say the ball is in Nelson’s court as though there is only one council member that can stick up for us. There are 5 council members that can stand up and do the right thing and I expect Nelson to be one of them. Quirk, Kellar, Bankhead and Jones should all stand up as well and back a fair and open process.

    Nelson has no exclusive on looking out for citizens, it just seems that way sometimes.

    1. That about sums it up Commish. I have zero confidence in the Gang of Four. I would love for Quirk to prove me wrong. “Keller” is German for cellar. Bankhead is brain-dead. Somebody probably told Jones it’s been mandated by somebody in Karakhastan. These people don’t represent us. They represent the Redevelopment lobby.

    2. True Commish, there are five of them. But Nelson is the only one who can call himself a leader. That’s why he’s running for County Supervisor, and that’s why we know he’ll do the right thing here and demand a public hearing!

  7. When I was a child in school, the teachers would give candy to first kid who stood up with the answer. Perhaps you should announce a prize for the first councilmember to address this issue properly.

  8. #8 Harpoon: There is a place called the Ratskeller in Old Town, Huntington Beach. Real nice German Bar. Too bad you’ve now poisoned that image with Pam Keller for me.

    I’d sue if there was any way I could win….I really loved that bar -crying, cursing, beer sloshing.

    Brain dead council members can mean only one thing for Fullerton, thats right Bushala, you got yourself some ZOMBIES runnin that town! They are trying to suck the life out of it and Dick Jones is their leader!!!!!

    1. “Too bad you’ve now poisoned that image with Pam Keller for me.”

      Was it the manic smile?

  9. Hey, it’s only Southwest Fullerton, right? They don’t care down there, do they?

    Better there with all those housing projects than up on the hill where all those Republican women live, right!

  10. I attended the March 17 city council study session about this proposed project. It was broadcast and archived. You can view it at this link:

    http://www.cityoffullerton.com/about/meetings_live.asp#bodyTop

    Choose March 17 Study Session, Video.

    “Euclid Commons” is meant to provide rental units for people in the low and very low income brackets. I recall having a generally favorable impression of the project for several reasons. The site is near a bus stop, across from a junior high school, and within reasonable walking distance of a grocery store.

    Urban Housing Communities provided plans for several other projects they have already built in places like San Bernardino, Santa Rosa, Los Angeles, and other CA areas. I didn’t care much for the bland architecture of any of these projects, but the plans included more outdoor space for residents, and were generally organized in a way that seemed less about warehousing poor people and more about helping to facilitate the creation of healthy communities.

    You can view their website here:

    http://www.uhcllc.net

    The architecture looks pretty awful on the website. I enjoyed a conversation with the two gentlemen from UHC following the meeting (they were both Fullerton natives, for what it’s worth). They struck me as people genuinely interested in providing livable communities for lower income people. Not sure why these firms can find a way to build something interesting, sustainable and socially redeeming at the same time.

    I do recall Shawn Nelson objecting to the process even in March. Better to watch the tape yourselves than to trust my memory about his concerns.

    1. Looks like the word “Commons” has replaced the word “Pointe” in the (developers) world of smoke and mirrors.

  11. Correction: This line should read:

    Not sure why these firms CAN’T find a way to build something interesting, sustainable and socially redeeming at the same time.

    ML

  12. Thanks Matt, I just watched some of the study session. It looks like they were presenting a development of subsidized 800 sq foot detached homes with a million dollar-per-acre land giveaway. Nelson was trying to pin them down on the cost and asking why they were pushing for such expensive homes rather than low-cost condos.

    It sounds like we have money burning holes in our pockets. Might as well give away some houses.

  13. Gents, the nature of the project isn’t the point of this post, but rather the unofficial “incrementalization” of a Redevelopment project behind closed doors – an all too frrequent dodge of the spirit of the Brown Act. By claiming it is a negotiating issue they can get council assent to begin the build-up of momnetum that invariably leads to inevitability.

    And the post is correct: that is wrong.

    I think we’ll be doing a follow up on “Euclid Commons” (the name alone makes me want to visit the barfatorium in the West Harbor Alley Improvement Project.

  14. as i drive around all parts of fullerton, from valencia mesa to valencia avenue, I see an unprecedented number of for rent signs posted on the front yards of fullertonites homes. And forgive my negative nancy outlook, but this economic depression is not going away for quite awhile. California is hardest hit by foreclosures on personal and commercial property, so revenue is and will be in short supply for california and fullerton. and the city council and its bureaucratic arms that manipulate our town likes its puppet, stupidly push for government funded low income housing that will unfairly compete with private, tax paying homeowners chance to rent out their houses instead of losing them to foreclosure. government floats on private enterprise, and when government competes with private enterprise it threatens its own existence.

  15. Lets just see how our “fiscal conservative” Pam Kellar does with this money waster.

    If the City has exhausted its allotment of moderate income affordable housing (ZurScmiede himself has said so recently) then why would the council be looking at single family product? Any responsible person knows that low and very low income housing can not be built in an urban area as a single story stand alone product. It would be less expensive to give families $400k each.

  16. I have just received an e-mail from an acquaintance who informs me that part of the rationale on the part of staff for this approach is that if the council actually established a position of support, in public, then the price would go up.

    To this excuse I would argue:

    1) we pay Zur Schmiede a big salary to be a tough, hard-driving negotiator; and

    2) who cares how much it costs? The money is coming out of the 20% set-aside and can’t be spent on anything else; and

    3) public transparency trumps other considerations anyway.

  17. The Fullerton Harpoon :

    I have just received an e-mail from an acquaintance who informs me that part of the rationale on the part of staff for this approach is that if the council actually established a position of support, in public, then the price would go up.

    To this excuse I would argue:

    THE LAW REQUIRES THE AGENCY TO DO AN APPRAISAL AND PAY FAIR MARKET VALUE FOR THE PROPERTY. THEY CAN’T PAY MORE OR LESS THAN IT’S WORTH. AND THAT IS THE LAW.

  18. One might argue (and easily win) that the prices discussed by the government always seem to be higher than that which the market would pay.

    This thing is still floating around because no private developer is interested. Hello? Does anyone think that if this were such a hot property it would still be available? The owner wants the city to pay more than any other person possibly ever would. Period, end of story.

    1. Good point, Willis. This is being promoted by Paul Kott an Anaheim realtor, who, ironically, mobilized neighborhood opposition against an “affordable” housing project near his offices on Lincoln Avenue.

  19. You should stop criticizing Rob Zur Schmiede. He’s taking risks for all of Fullerton. That takes courage and we support what he is doing to Fullerton.

  20. Poon: You wouldn’t happen to have a cite to any ink Mr. Kott got fighting this affordable housing issue would you? It would be interesting to expose if so.

    1. It was several years ago, but I remember reading about in the Reg., I think. I’ll see if I can find anything.

  21. Willis, here you go:

    Foes of Units for Disabled Unfazed
    http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jun/23/local/me-neighbors23

    “…residents along an Anaheim street remained largely unapologetic Thursday for suggesting that a housing project for the mentally ill would bring undesirables to their community.

    Residents of the neighborhood, called Westmont, said a letter from real estate agent Paul Kott alerted them to the city’s plans for the vacant lot at Wilshire Avenue and Pearl Street. Kott, whose office is a few hundred yards from the site, wrote in his letter that “parolees, child molesters and mentally ill” could soon live nearby.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.